Is displaying the Ten Commandments alongside copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Star-Spangled Banner, Magna Carta and other documents at a Virginia public high school an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion? Or is it part of an educational exhibit of historic documents?

Those questions are at the heart of a long-simmering legal fight in a small Appalachian Mountains county.

The Ten Commandments and a copy of the U.S. Constitution were on display at Narrows High School for more than a decade. But the commandments were removed after the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, acting on behalf of an unnamed resident, objected in late 2010 to the Giles County school board that the display violated the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.

That set off community protests. About 200 students walked out of class last year. Pro-commandment lawn signs popped up around town, folks wore T-shirts bearing the commandments and packed school board meetings demanding them back. In response, the commandments were put back up with other historic documents on a hallway wall near the school’s trophy case — and a lawsuit followed.

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